Parents tell us…

What have you found difficult?

  • When my husband was alive, he would go out and buy a present for me on the children’s behalf for Mother’s Day. Now I’m on my own, I have pared Mother’s Day right down – I just want it to be easy for the children
  • We don’t go out for lunch – I don’t want to be in a pub or a restaurant with families and fathers having their Sunday lunch. You don’t want to come face to face with families who’ve got their missing person who you don’t have, which can make things feel worse
  • Having my first Mother’s Day with a new baby without my husband
  • It’s hard to predict how I will react
  • It can be difficult holding together sadness about the absence of someone, alongside celebrating relationships with the living

What have you found helpful?

  • I primed the flower shop in our village, and said that if I sent the children in with £15, would they help them choose a nice bunch of flowers? I told them the circumstances, that I was widowed, and they were more than happy to help
  • I cooked a Sunday lunch at home, and we watched a movie together in the afternoon
  • Other kind family members and friends sent me a card and flowers as if from my baby son, knowing that I had no husband to do this for me
  • Doing something fun together to make my child feel special and to acknowledge our bond
  • Taking some time before the day to think together with a partner / family about the feelings that are around this year. Don’t assume that what was felt last year will be felt again this year- feelings change over time. Having talked, we can then think about what to do, and make space for both remembering the one who died and having fun with those who care for us now. Try to find the balance if you can. If it’s the first year, have a plan, but allow flexibility to change plans depending on how you feel. Remember that the anticipation is sometimes worse than the event.

What advice would you give to other families?

  • The key thing for me on Mother’s Day is making a fuss of the cards the children have made for me and making them feel that I’m not missing out. I don’t want them to feel they’re not ‘doing it properly’ because there isn’t another adult to help them. I remember them rushing around to lay the table nicely for lunch in their own way, and I was trying to show how impressed I was with what they’d done
  • I didn’t want presents for Mother’s Day – I raised no expectations of the children – that would have added another layer of burden on their shoulders. In fact I think I probably lower their expectations as to what I expect. All that hype about ‘Mum gets to put her feet up’ and ‘someone else does all the cooking’ – I didn’t want to buy into any of that sort of thing with them
  • Keep things simple, try not to get sucked into the hype and don’t force yourself into doing the typical ‘family’ things that might make you feel sadder
  • Think of ‘Mothering Sunday’ as the day we celebrate all those in a mothering role and who care for us (which can include single dads/ grandparents etc.) rather than the more limited ‘mothers’ day’. And remember to ‘mother’ yourself – be gentle in expectations of yourself on this day, and make sure to plan a treat for yourself